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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Open Bag Doctrine


Working in an office is a lot like living in a house with a bunch of roommates.  There are common areas that everyone gets to take part in, the most important (at least for my own storytelling purposes) being The Kitchen.  It’s where everyone stashes their food, makes their coffee, conducts gossip filled chats, and it’s also an unintentional breeding ground for tension.

Case in point: this bag of Tostitos Scoops chips.  Sitting in the kitchen since roughly the end of last week, it was unopened until yesterday.  Untouched by man or woman, full of potential calories and diet woes, mocking anyone who walked in to acknowledge its existence and open its contents.  But there it sat…destiny unfulfilled.  All the while, anyone who would pass it would think to themselves, “Who’s bag of chips are those?”, followed by, “Are those for everyone?”.  You even see this sort of thing at parties: everyone's standing around afraid to dip in the pool, eat the first Deviled Egg, or scared to start that game of Spin the Bottle everyone seemed soooo keen on playing the day Suzie decided to invite everyone to her stupid party.  (Honestly Suzie, put up or shut up...I'm a good kisser, and you were just afraid you'd be ruined for any other man.  Especially CHAD!  By the way, now's a good time to mention the names I'm using in here are made up.)

In Office Kitchens across America, this debate is raging on quietly in the minds of employees far and wide.  This debate could lead to freak outs such as the following fictitious scenario:

“No, seriously, who’s chips are those?  I have Chili sitting in the fridge that would be perfect to dip them in.  But I don’t want to open them, because if I open them and they belong to someone else, I’ll be accused of food theft.  And food theft in an office is pretty much a vote of no confidence against the employee who is accused, much less convicted by a jury of their peers.  Goodbye plum spot on the Company Softball team.  So long usual table at the office Christmas Party, Suzie (Yes, THAT Suzie!) from Accounting sits there and it was her chips you pilfered from.  No, the most you’re getting out of that crowd is the usual death stares they would give Andy in Marketing after he took the last donut on Casual Friday.  You know, the donut that was saved for our visiting VP?  Oh, will you look at that…Andy’s taken your spot.  And it looks like he’s practiced that death stare to a tee.  Guess that’s to be expected, after all he got that stare for the past three years in a row.  Really?  I’m going to have to endure that stare for three years?  But Jimmy in Accounts Payable was only give two weeks for using someone else’s butter.  Oh god!  The Butter!”
With all of that on the line, a co-worker and I were in the kitchen the other day and she remarked about the bag and how it was unopened.  We wondered who’s it was, and deducing it was actually left out for public consumption, she had wondered why it wasn’t opened?  Thus, the Open Bag Doctrine was born.  The Open Bag Doctrine goes as follows:

“If a food product of any sort shall be left in the fridge, out on the counter, or out on the table; and its owner or origin is unknown, it shall be up for grabs after a reasonable statute of limitations.  (Inter-office policy shall dictate the parameters that equal “reasonable”.  HR should really be consulted in matters like this.)

Should this product be intended for public consumption, it will remain dormant until someone opens the bag/breaks the seal/takes the first donut or bagel.  Once that first portion has been consumed, watch that puppy fly.”

I tested the Open Bag Doctrine’s validity by opening the bag, once it was cleared for public consumption by our coordinated opinions.  From the open bag, I took a handful of chips and savored my philosophical victory.  I even went back later that afternoon to load up on some chips with the Salsa I brought from home.  Sure enough, by lunch time today, the bag was about 3/4ths consumed when I grabbed a couple to dip in my soup.  I think we can officially say that the results are conclusive: The Open Bag Doctrine is now a thing.  So if you see a sealed bag or a plate of donuts just waiting to be opened or consumed in your office kitchen, remember that The Open Bag Doctrine applies.

1 comment:

Kevin Egan said...

This is dangerous constitutional territory in which the courts have yet to set any precedent. I think an important corollary should be an exemption in the case of clearly home made food (likely encased in tupperwear). Even if amounts of food item are clearly in excess of a single persons serving and likely for sharing, pre-mature consumption can lead to hurt feelings. Hurt feelings lead to hate, and hate leads to suffering.